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My contact lens is stuck in my eye!

Posted on 11 August 2014

My contact lens is stuck in my eye!
Your contact lens has become stuck in your eye. Its an awful thing to imagine but it does happen. Knowing what steps to take in this situation is crucial if you are a contact lens wearer. 

What does it feel like?
It will feel as though a big, foreign body is in your eye and that you will want it removed immediately. It may feel as though the contact lens is has actually slipped right behind the eye. Even though it is a disturbing and even creepy feeling, don't worry, it is not in fact behind the eye. It is not possible for the contact lens to slip behind the eye ball. 

How can I be sure the contact is not behind my eye?
EyeballIt is a physical impossibility for a contact lens to actually go behind the eye. The eye is an intricate and self-protecting design that disallows any foreign matter, including contacts, to enter behind. 
Firstly, the muscles at the rear of the eye disallow the lens to pass through. Secondly, the conjunctiva also prevents it. The conjunctiva is a lining inside the eyelids which also covers the whites of the eye.  Its purpose is multifunctional. It helps lubricate the ocular surface and also protects from microbes and foreign bodies. This includes preventing a contact lens from slipping past the membrane. 
So, yes it feels like the contact has gone behind the eye but it hasn't. Nevertheless, its an awful feeling and must be corrected. 

How does a contact lens become stuck?
A soft contact lens is a thin, flexible lens that sits on top of the eye across the cornea. You might rub your eye which results in the dislodgement of your contact lens. The lens will sometimes fold in half and slip from the cornea to remain under the eyelid.  The lens is usually found under the temporal aspect of the superior eyelid. 

How to remove a stuck contact?
There are a few techniques that you can try yourself before seeking assistance from your optometrist. 

  • The lens may be retrieved by adding some contact lens rewetting drops into the eye. Close eyes, then open and blink, then close again, but most importantly try to relax. Most people report that with a little rewetting solution and closing and opening the eye, the contact will correct itself.  
  • If this is not enough to bring the contact lens back onto the surface of the eye, liberally apply the drops and then after washing your hands slightly massage or gently rub the eye through the eyelid. This should bring the contact lens back to its rightful position on the cornea. 
  • If this doesn't work, try manipulating the eyelids to manage the issue. Gently pull the upper eyelid outwards and downwards over the lower eyelid. This should force the contact lens out. 
  • Try turning the eyelid inside out. Use a cotton tip to assist in flipping the eyelid. Lay the cotton tip across the upper eyelid, look downward, gently grab the eyelashes and then flip the eyelid over the cotton tip. This should reveal the contact. Then roll the eyeball to move it into place. 
If none of these techniques have been successful, seek attention from your eyecare practitioner. Don't panic. If necessary, you might have to sleep in the lens overnight before seeking attention in the morning.